Shops besides the overbridge in Jhumri Tilaiya, Koderma, on Wednesday. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Jhumri Tilaiya (Koderma), April 3: If the kalakand of Jhumri Tilaiya in Koderma district appears a little less popular these days, it is not because the sweet has lost its divine taste.
A rail overbridge passing by the sweet shops selling the famous delicacy is more to be blamed.
The 750m link from Koderma railway station to Jhanda Chowk in town, which was inaugurated last September to ease movement of vehicles that earlier had to wait at the railway crossing whenever trains passed, has spelt doom for several shops and businesses in the area. Built at a cost of Rs 28 crore, the 15-feet high overbridge has unwittingly ended up hiding the stores along the services lanes from the public eye. Tucked away in the narrow 6-feet lanes, these shops, including the ones selling kalakand, find very few buyers.
One of the casualties is Anand Vihar, an old shop known for its kalakand and milk cakes.
Owners Ashish Khaitan and Amit Khaitan rued that business was big when the road in front of their shop was a main thoroughfare, always bustling with traffic.
“That was before the overbridge came into existence. Now, traffic passes by the overbridge with people having no idea that there is a good sweetmeat shop down the lane. We are also losing on our old customers as they have to take extra trouble to come here. Our business has been badly hit,” said Ashish.
Anyone wanting to buy kalakand will have to get down at Jhanda Chowk, where the overbridge ends, then take a left turn to the service road on foot. “We knew that the overbridge would hurt our business and had approached sitting MP Babulal Marandi when construction started. But he failed to do anything,” Ashish added.
No wonder, the Khaitans have taken another shop on the NH-33, about 500 metres away from the old one.
The old shop near Purnima Talkies came into existence in 1966.
“People talk about Jhumri Tilaiya’s mica and our mouth-watering kalakand in the same breath,” a proud Amit added.
Anand Vihar is not the only one.
Not less than 40 shops, including jewellery, computer, hardware stores, a branch of HDFC Bank and even restaurants, have been affected.
Chandrakant Verma, owner of SS Jewellers, said their business reduced to half after the overbridge came into existence. “I am also looking for some other location to shift,” he added.
Ashish Joshi, a paan shop owner, rued he was earning only 30 per cent of what he used to do before.
“Bahut bura haal hai par. Iss overbridge ki wajah se kayi purane dukkano ka astitwa sampt ho jayega ane wale dino mein (The situation is really bad. A lot of old shops along the stretch will lose their identity because of the overbridge),” he added.
Many also complained that they also found it difficult to walk on the overbridge from the station’s side towards Jhanda Chowk. “The construction is faulty. The slope is so steep that people fall down. Bike accidents are frequent,” Verma said.